According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children.
If breastfeeding were scaled up to near universal levels, about 820,000 child lives would be saved every year. Globally, only 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed.
In the US, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 81% of US babies born in 2015 were breastfed from birth. This figure ranks the US in the top 10 among world countries, but we still lag significantly behind Scandanavian countries, where the percentage is higher than 95%.
The large number of US babies who start out breastfeeding shows that most mothers want to breastfeed, and are trying to do so. While messages about the importance of breastfeeding are getting through to new mothers, the “at least for a year” message is not penetrating as strongly as it must. CDC studies show that less than one third (30.7%) of infants were breastfeeding at 12 months.
Many studies support breastfeeding for as long as possible. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies get nothing but human breast milk until the age of six months, and that they continue to breastfeed for at least a year.
For many mothers, and for a multitude of reasons, a one-year commitment is not possible. And it’s important to remember that your decision is based upon your unique circumstances. The objective here is to give you all of the facts about how breastfeeding can benefit both your baby and you.
For more reasons why breastfeeding is an amazing gift that you can give to your baby, check out this article: